Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: Looking Back at Tiananmen Square, the Defeat of Counter-Revolution in China

The following is from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization:

the-goddess-of-democracy-in-tiananmen-squareWe are publishing the paper, Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party written 20 years ago during the 1989 turmoil in China. Authored by Mick Kelly, a leading member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, this paper was produced in the context of a major two-line debate in our organization on socialism and China.

We are publishing it now, because with the 20th anniversary of the events at Tiananmen Square upon us, there are already attempts underway to attack socialism, the Chinese revolution, and those that defend it. We do not see this paper as a definitive statement of our organization on the many political movements and great debates that occurred in China since 1949. Rather we think the paper stands as a rigorous effort to use Marxism to understand the near defeat of the Chinese revolution that took place some 20 years ago.

In Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party, Mick Kelly does a good job of explaining the origins, development, and reactionary reality of the Chinese student movement, as well as its relationship to Chinese society and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1980s. The paper supports Marxism-Leninism and the Chinese revolution while investigating and evaluating the problems faced and errors made by the CCP. The paper is provocative reading for Marxists because it challenges both social-democratic and ultra-left views regarding socialism and continuing the class struggle within socialist countries.

The author defends the leading party’s attempts to develop a modern socialist society, the need to combat revisionism within the party and society, and to beat back counter-revolution and the restoration of capitalism. On the down side the paper was overly hopeful about the outcome of the struggle against revisionism and capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe, and underestimated the growth of the capitalist sector of the Chinese economy in the years to come.

Many issues raised in Continuing the Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party were settled in the early 1990s. For example, some western leftists back then held that the overthrow of existing socialism would lead to a new improved socialism. Those who held this view were soon proved wrong by the counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe and the USSR, where restored capitalism led to mass unemployment, societal decay and wars that continue to this day. As the U.S. ruling class celebrated this, many of the counter-revolutionary Chinese students, hyped as heroes by U.S. corporate media, were able to escape justice, reappearing to make their fortunes in the west. These pro-imperialist reactionaries praised the armed attacks on the People’s Liberation Army and openly expressed their dreams of bringing capitalism to China.

We hope that those interested in revolutionary change today can learn something from this paper. We are now in a situation where Marxism-Leninism is gaining strength and popularity around the world and the socialist countries are modernizing. Proletarian revolutionaries in many countries can make advances while the U.S. economic crisis deepens. Our hope is this paper will help to further the understanding of why supporting socialism and China is important to everyone who is fighting imperialism and to everyone who wants a better way of life.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Follow this link to read Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

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76 responses to “Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: Looking Back at Tiananmen Square, the Defeat of Counter-Revolution in China

  1. I don’t agree with the conclusions of this at all, that the students were a primarily “reactionary” element and that the state was vindicated in its violent put down of the movement…its seems like Cultural Revolution logic turned on its head, incorrectly.

    I wish I had more time to flesh this out now, perhaps this weekend we can get some fruitful discussion on this.

  2. I can agree somehow with the remarks of Celticfire.

    I red the analyse on the website of FRSO and I think that there is made a non correct analyse about the Cultural Revolution because it is based on the reports made by the surroundings of Deng Xiaoping (you can read the same remarks in the collected works of Deng Xiaoping), made AFTER de dead of Mao Zedong. They didn’t dare to make such an analyse earlier….

    And when you see the analyses and remarks of the leadership of the movement of 1989 and when you study them good, you will see that they are just more consequent political and economic statements (but in essentials the SAME) than those of Deng Xiaoping himself. (and they are made by former members of the CCP as Fang Lihzi – expelled because of his openly pro-capitalist statements)

    Where Deng wanted to use the CCP (and so the formal leadership of the CCP)as long as possible to implement IN FACT state-capitalism without real proleterian dictatorship and with STOPPING of every development of communist productionrelations, the leadership of the movement went AGAINST even a formal leadership of the CCP.
    The policy of Deng led to membership of capitalists IN the CCP. The leadership of the protestmovement want openly bourgeois-parties.

    Inside the CCP there was surely opposition against the revisionism of Deng Xiaoping, but also in the protestmovement (although the leadership of the protestmovement was indeed in hands of pro-capitalists) there was opposition against the policy of Deng Xiaoping.

    So in fact you can compare (as illustration NOT as an analogy) the oppression of the protestmovement by a more and more revisionist becoming but still communist party of China with the oppression of the revisionist evoluted communist party of the soviet-union of the openly reactionary uprising in Hongary.

    So has the analyse to be more dialectical. Perhaps than it will satisfy Celticfire more.
    I for my part will try to participate in a more deepened analyse of the Cultural Revolution and also the happenings round Tien Anmen square in 1989.

  3. Basically, I agree with Nico.

    The assumptions that Mick Kelly makes about the 1989 events in interesting in as much as it relates to the line of FRSO/”Fight Back” today.

    The piece, btw, is uncessarilly long. Maybe it was meant to be a larger work, like a book?

    As a basic level, they don’t seem to “get” Mao.

    Kelly also obfusicates Mao’s position on the counter revolutionary attempt in Hungary in 1956.

    Mao writes, “Certain people in our country were delighted by the Hungarian incident. They hoped that something similar would happen in China, that thousands upon thousands of people would take to the streets to demonstrate against the People’s Government. Their hopes ran counter to the interests of the masses and therefore could not possibly win their support.” (Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.)

    Mao is saying that there was no material basis for a Hungarian style event in China in 1957. However, there was such a basis in China in the 80’s.

    So why did the the masses of demonstrators have basis? What had changed in the base/superstructure to result in this?

    Well, what a good number of Maoists believe now is that China experienced the same kind of internal revisionist process that the Soviet Union had occur.

    There were Maoists IN THE CROWD with the protestors, waving the red flag and the red book.

    Deng had no intention of letting Mao’s ideas see a revival in China.

    Kelly, and it seems FRSO/Fight Back obsess about the outward appearences of the state, because it drapes the red flag it must be socialism.

    Dialectics and certainly materialism argues otherwise.

    What happened in 1989 in China was not socialism. It was a revisionist state defending itself from the onslaught of the masses.

  4. Also, a sidenote, I find it very telling that Kelly views the GPCR as a “mistake.” What I regard as the highest point for socialism in the 20th century, Kelly dissmisses and repeats some ruling class analysis on it:

    “The Cultural Revolution also left a large number of people confused and demoralized. This alienation, or “crisis of faith” as it was sometimes called in the late 1970s, struck particularly deep among young people. To an extent, that this would occur is only natural. It is not surprising that people would be bummed out when they realized that a set of deeply held beliefs that had been forged in another period were not only wrong but had also caused immense damage to China. Nearly 700,000 people were persecuted to one degree or another between 1966 and 1976, and now people had to deal with the fact that it was a mistake..”

    I am not arguing with the facts. There was some ultraleftist errors in the CPGR, undoubtedly. Intellectuals were treated wrongly. Factionalism became prevelant.

    I am arguing with the conclusion – that it was mistake. This is not a view I share.

  5. Thanks for commenting, Celticfire. And thanks for taking the time to read the paper.

    Your points are interesting, though, I think, a little superficial. It is perfectly clear that you are coming at this paper and the events of 1989 from the preconceptions of your “Maoist” ideology, rather than by “seeking truth from facts.” Marxism-Leninism is about the summation of experiences and the concrete analsysis of concrete conditions, not propping up our pre-concieved notions. That’s not ML, its “Left”-dogmatism.

    I’ll address two of your points, briefly, because I think they get to the heart of the others:

    1. You say: “what a good number of Maoists believe now is that China experienced the same kind of internal revisionist process that the Soviet Union had occur”.

    A good number of Maoists think all sorts of strange things that I’m sure FRSO and myself disagree with. That’s fine. But on this, superficially, it would seem that we agree, at least in part. For example, a “good number of Maoists” hold the view that the collapse of socialism in the USSR resulted from internal contradictions brought about by the revisionist policies of Krushchev and culminating in 1991. That’s FRSO’s view as I understand it as well. There are some ultra-leftists who still cling to the idea that capitalism was fully restored in 1956, but I think that’s a minority view amongst Marxist-Leninists with fewer and fewer adherants since 1991. There is an excellent book, with articles from almost 20 parties and organization from many different trends (including various groups that uphold Mao Zedong) from around the world, on this subject. It is called The Collapse of the Soviet Union: Causes and Lessons. I mention it because I think that given your interest in this subject you might be interested in trying to find a copy of it.

    This paper also takes the view that what happened in China in 1989 was the result of internal contradictions resulting from mistaken policies of the Chinese Party and State, primarily those of the beginning of the Reform period, which led to the cries for “bourgeois liberalization” from the ultra-Righists like Zhao Ziyang and his student followers. Like in the People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe, the demonstrators were calling for Western Democracy and Capitalism. Unlike in Eastern Europe and the USSR, it resulted in a split in the Party and ultra-Rightists lost.

    2. You say that what happened in China was “a revisionist state defending itself from the onslaught of the masses”.

    I obviously disagree, and so does this paper, which spends dozens of pages going through the basic facts as to why this is a mistaken view. But you seem to think that the presentation of these facts is “un[nec]cessarilly long”. You don’t seem to be interested in addressing these. Instead, you just present the same old worn out opinions.

    So I ask you this: Do you likewise think the counter-revolutionary upheavals led by the likes of Solidarność in Poland, or during the so-called “Prague Spring” in Czheckoslovakia, should be characterized in the same way?

    • Sorry Comradezero,
      I want to critic you (you can do the same to me when I make some mistakes on this) on a method of discussion that is not promoting finding unity is seeking for the truth by discussion. Proving by the use of analogies is –as I see it – not an honnest method of discussion.
      Of course Celticfire should have taken one or two arguments out of the “unneccessarily long” text to refute them with arguments to prove his statement that what happened in China was “ a revisionist state defending itself from the onslaught of the masses”.
      But your reaction on HIS statement, that perhaps has a lack of dialectics, but has “some” correct aspects: the strong revisionist development (the “Deng Xiaoping”-line so to say – in the CC) and a part of the protesters protesting against that “capitalist promoting line”, is not promoting honnest discussion to seek for the thruth.
      When you ask him: “Do you likewise think the counter-revolutionary upheavals led by the likes of Solidarność in Poland, or during the so-called “Prague Spring” in Czheckoslovakia, should be characterized in the same way?” you are not discussing honnestly.
      What can Celticfire answer on this question? “No” Then he has “to admit” that his statement was wrong, and you are right….
      “Yes” Then he “has to admit” (something that he never will do –I think) that there was some real communist and anti-revisionist part in the movement of Solidarnosc or the “Prague Spring”), because then you can accuse him to be “counterrevolutionary” or supporting “procapitalist protesting”, in Poland and Czheckoslovakia …. and so also in China of 1989.
      This “proof by the use of analogies”, I consider as a non correct method of discussion.

  6. Basically this is a matter of a real genuine split between the anti-revisionist camp, one that marks was is essentially the root of the question here – for Maoists, socialism is a contradictory period of transition toward communism and has all the elements of capital within it.

    Unfortunately the Brezhenvite line of Fight Back! and other organizations like the PTB gets confused on what in fact revisionism is – its the bourgeois political line in guise of the communist one. The political line of the state is the principled question here – and it was at the time of the Tiananmen Massacre the CPC Party-State was thoroughly revisionist. We can even see that quite truly during the line struggle over how to deal with the students; the political line divided by an authoritarian and confucian right-wing section of the Party led by Li Peng and the liberal reformist line of Zhao Ziyang, with Deng Xiaoping for moments swaying between the two lines and ultimately siding with the authoritarian line of Li Peng.

    It is absolutely true that Tiananmen Square, there was likely a direction that made it tantamount to following the line most pushed forward by Zhao Ziyang – even though the masses supporting the student leaders had major concerns about the economic reforms which had caused inflation and led them to try to stop the troop crack down, and which successfully stopped them in the first instance – by why should we celebrate the Dengist revisionists cracking down upon a protest about the liberalization of a bourgeois party-dictatorship? Why not celebrate the Myanamar junta’s crackdown on any democratic movement as well?

  7. I would like to say that I found the analysis profound and undoubtedly almost completely correct. It was a real breath of fresh air, from a person who actually knew a great deal about the events and had taken the time to analyze them thoroughly.

    Most of what passes for Leninist theory in the U.S. is garbage.

    To those of you who thought it was too long, let me suggest that revolution is not a matter of soundbites. We are used to getting our politics in tiny doses in the Western World, but that is not enough for you to really understand the politics, and our leaders count on that.

    If there were Maoists in the crowd with those protesters, they were very confused Maoists. I actually had the dubious pleasure of hearing one of the Tiananmen Square leaders speak, and she made it quite clear where she was: She was for capitalism.

    But you don’t have to take my word for it: Go back over the article, and you will see some very excellent proof of this. Of course, Cde. Kelly could have cut that out and made the article shorter, but.

    The people in the CPC China who supported the protesters were not the ousted Maoists: They were the far right, people who had been suppressed during the days of the Cultural Revolution. Again, read the article. Li Peng, who put down the revolt, is the adopted son of Chou En Lai. His wife was later accused of owning stock in companies. She gave a TV interview in which it became quite clear she wasn’t really clear what stock IS. These are not the capitalist roaders.

    The article also gets the number one mistake of American Trotskyists and American Maoists — and Maoists should be given pause by the fact that this mistake is shared: Socialism is not egalitarianism.

    Marx never said, “To each equally,” did he? From each according to his ability, to each according to his LABOR, and then from each according to his ability to each according to his need only later.

    Was Chinese socialism on the verge of communism in 1969, twenty years after overthrowing a system which was capitalist in a few cities and frankly feudalist in most of the country? Of course not. Therefore egalitarianism in China in 1969 was anti-Marxist.

  8. The question of whether the Cultural Revolution was good or bad, while worthwhile in itself, is not wholly apropos to the discussion of whether or not the PRC’s actions in 1989 at Tienanmen Square were good or bad.

    Likewise, whether or not the protests have been blessed with the official imprimatur of “Maoists” in the US or China, either in present time or back in 1989, is not the most important factor at the end of the day. This is because it does not directly assess whether or not the events — as they transpired — were a good thing or a bad thing.

    OK then, what is the most important thing?

    The primary contradiction in the world today, just like in 1989, is global imperialism, with the United States at the head. The forces of imperialism are mainly absorbed in struggling against countries that develop a relative degree of independence from the system they themselves have developed. Then as now, this includes China.

    With the hindsight we have now, we know that the Tienanmen protests — not including any ostensibly “Maoist” participation, of course — were but a component part of a concerted offensive on the part of a resurgent imperialism against the putatively “socialist bloc”, including the Warsaw Pact, China, Vietnam, et cetera. Since the strength of imperialism lies in its existence as a global system, it is logical for it to seek global control. Conversely, the less control it has on a global scale, the less strength it has.

    Therefore, for people who are opposed to imperialism, revolutionary socialists included, the relevant question is this: does the continued existence of the PRC weaken, or strengthen imperialism?

    In my opinion, it follows then that the proper frame for discussion amongst revolutionaries — that is, people opposed to to imperialism — should be this:

    1. Were the Tienanmen Square protests counter-revolutionary?

    2. Should the PRC suppress counter-revolutionary activity?

  9. I agree with Peanut and Comrade Armadillo, and appreciate their posts.

    There is a quote from the paper that says it all pretty well:

    Sad as it might be that deadly combat would break out in a socialist country, there is a worse alternative; the overthrow of people’s rule and the enslavement of China by the imperialist powers. While there were many contradictions at work, many good and decent people in motion with just demands and aspirations, and real shortcomings in the work of the CPC, in the final analysis the confrontation in Beijing was between capitalism and socialism.

    There are Marxists in this country who desperately want to avoid this reality. They must either torture the facts and say the goal of the movement’s leadership was to improve socialism or failing that, they must resort to silly statements, such as the students had internalized socialist values and therefore they should be supported. Or that most of them were subjectively patriotic and therefore we should not be too critical. We are dealing with real forces with real leadership. The issue was what class would hold political power and whether socialism or capitalism would rule in China.

    I think that’s very well said.

  10. My point about the length was a friendly editorial suggestion. I was around the RCP long enough to read long wind-bagged lectures by Bob Avakian to offer that…I’m not saying this piece is wind-bagged (it *is* engaging), but it could use help in the precision department.

    But anyway…

    I think this discussion is moving towards what is really at the heart of the matter which the Cultural Revolution, which as it appears to me, FRSO (Fight Back) casts aside as a “mistake,” and obviously, some of the members encourage reading Liu.

    It’s okay to read Liu, Trotsky or Kautsky…but if you read Liu with the understanding that he is somehow a component of the Maoist thought, you would be wrong. Mao’s brilliance exists only in the context of the dialectical opposition to Liu, as did Lenin’s against Kautsky, etc.

    I would be the last to deny there was certain mistakes and problems with GPCR, but I uphold it as an important piece to socialist thinking.

    Fight Back seems to me to live up to every criticism an anarchist has ever made of Marxism – that it will use the state to crush workers initiative, and insitute a new ruling class. Which is exactly what we saw in Russia and China.

    Fight Back then defends these revisionist states by emphasizing that socialism is a transitionary state.

    Socialism is indeed transitionary…but tranisitioning to where, and how, using what methods and what ideology?

    My understanding of Trotsky is that he had difficulty believing a socialist state could turn into’s opposite, and so it was a “deformed workers state” (correct me if I am wrong)…

    Well doesn’t FRSO (FB) make the same mistake when the promote revisionist states, not believing that things can turn into their opposite?

    I think generally this reflects a bad reading of Mao.

    For example, China is not Eastern Europe and I think it’s mechanical to take Mao’s position on one set of conditions and doctrainlly apply them to another, which is what Kelly is doing when he defends a state crushing students and workers.

    There was clearly different gradients of political forces among the students and workers…is this not true of every movement?

    I think about the contradiction of what Mao’s stuff in the Red Book says instructing the PLA to among the people, and then the images of the PLA among the people smacking them down.

    Back to the CPGR. Mao did not call on the PLA to forcibly remove the revisionist forces, and certainly he was in a position to try it by the time Lin Biao became nominal head of the armed forces.

    He called on the masses themselves to overthrow the revisionists, essentially breaking with Stalin’s methods.

    FRSO(FB) still needs to make that break.

  11. I’m going to start by saying that I agree very strongly with Peanut. The issue of the GPCR, the GLF, all of this, is secondary to this question. Once we recognize the plain truth that the Tianenman protests were coming from the right and not from the left, there is no reason, based in Maoist theory, to support them.

    So, whether you side with Mao or whether you side with Deng and Jiang and Hu, surely you are not in favor of imperialist domination of China with all that would entail… Chaos and starvation in China, and an end to the one remaining counterweight to U.S. power in the world.

    And surely you do not have to be a Marxist of any sort to be absolutely sickened by the hypocrisy of a world press which spends day after day morning two hundred students who died in a foreign riot twenty years ago while ignoring the aerial bombings of Afghan and Pakistani villages which their own governments carry out daily, today.

    On the subject of the GPCR, etc., however:

    Surely Trotsky was closer to Leninism than, say, the ISO or the other latter day Trotskyists who indeed do take the view that Stalin implemented capitalism in the USSR, yes?

    Surely that ISO perspective is awfully close to many U.S. Maoists who claim that wage differentials not only lead to capitalism but actually signify capitalism?

    The analogy goes farther than that… In Stalin’s speech to the congress of the CP USSR in 1935, he made the point that many revolutionaries had gone too far in pushing egalitarianism. He pointed out, as I did above, that socialism did not mean egalitarianism. He pointed out that egalitarianism is, in fact, fundamentally an idealist concept and therefore alien to Marxist thought.

    As a result, he said, it was necessary to step back from, for instance, communes that had been set up in some areas, in favor of socialist methods of organization which emphasized reward in proportion to labor.

    Similarly, the left in China pushed too quickly for too advanced a form of socialism. It was necessary to step back.

    In this sense, there was a transition from a higher form of socialism to a lower, because a lower one was all the country was ready for. Does that mean that logically they were, or are, on the road to capitalism? If so, it means that Stalin, also, was a capitalist roader.

    The reality is that sometimes the road East is the Road West, and you cannot guess your destination from which way you turn right out of the driveway.

    As for whether there is capitalism in China today, there are two questions: One is direction of travel and the other is current position.

    On current position, the CP China’s position is basically unassailable: China is in the lowest stage of socialism, in which private ownership exists alongside public ownership, while public ownership plays the leading role in the economy.

    Most of the most important Chinese companies are State Owned Enterprises, and the few, such as Lenovo, which are not, have significant state shareholders which in fact control the company and the profits from it.

    In rural areas, collectives of various sorts are still an enormous part of the economic picture.

    As for where things are headed, I would humbly suggest that if the CP China were seriously bent on establishing full-scale capitalism, they would have privatized the SOEs a long time ago, as all the capitalist thinkers have been urging them to do.

    Here is some data I have extracted from the 2006 Chinese Statistical Yearbook for your consideration:

    I apologize for being snippy before. It’s a bad habit of mine. I can imagine Bob Avakian would get old after while, but in depth analysis is really important. In depth analysis and the speeches of Bob Avakian have length in common, but perhaps not much else.

  12. Intelligitimate

    Mao once said “We shall support whatever the enemy opposes and oppose whatever the enemy supports.” I was well aware of this principle long before I read that Mao said it, but it just goes to show the brilliance of Mao. The basis of this is that the bourgeoisie and their allies are some of the most class conscious people in the world. The capitalist mass media knows without a doubt who is and who is not on their side. They rarely make mistakes in choosing allies and demonizing enemies. It is almost impossible to be on the wrong side of an issue following this advice.

    This also applies to Tiananmen Square. The bourgeoisie press at the time supported the protesters. They still do today. Did the bourgeois mass media celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico last year, even though it had comparable numbers of protesters and comparable number of deaths? Absolutely not. This is because those people were protesting against a corrupt capitalist regime. It’s suppression went by almost without a peep in the bourgeois press, and is almost unheard of today.

    It is interesting that you think FRSO’s line somehow justifies what anarchists say. Anarchists and Trotskyists are fundamentally anti-communists, so much so that they often go even further than the bourgeoisie is willing to go in their denunciations. If I support a position, and the Anarchists, Trotskyists, liberals, conservatives, the mass media, neo-Nazis, etc, are all lined up along side me, then that gives me great pause. It should give you great pause as well, celticfire.

    As far as the Cultural Revolution is concerned, I see no reason to be wedded to uncritical support of any communist movement or leader. Mao made mistakes. Stalin made mistakes. Lenin made mistakes. Marx and Engels made mistakes. So have all the communist movements these people lead and inspired. But they also world-changing successes. It is important to learn both from their mistakes and their successes, so we don’t repeat their excesses and emulate what made them successful. It is also important to learn from the enemies mistakes and successes. The enemies ‘successes’ were on clear display in Russia and Eastern Europe, and there is no reason to think China would have happened any differently.

    If I had to criticize this article, it might be for not showing the connections that existed between the CIA and agents of Taiwan with the student movement. This was written in 1989, so it might not have been clear then. Counter-revolution can take on many faces. In China it took the face of a student movement, in Poland it took the face of a worker’s union. The form and rhetorical content of a movement is much less important than the forces leading it. And the forces in charge of the student movement in China were definitely pro-bourgeois liberalization in alliance with Rightist elements in the CPC. That they were able to get some workers on board with legitimate complaints against corruption doesn’t matter. The Nazis also got workers on board their program, and even had real anti-capitalist leaders in their ranks who took the anti-capitalist slogans seriously (Ernst Rohm). They killed him when he was no longer of any use.

  13. Comrade Amarillo demonstrates the line of Brezhenivism completely. Lets not be fouled by his attempt to straight jacket me or CelticFire as “American Maoists,” actually it is the line of international Maoists from us Americans to those engaged in People’s War – be it the Naxalites or NPA – that the Communist Party of China has long been a revisionist party, that has overthrown the dictatorship of the proletariat, and has restored capitalism in China. That is brutally self-evident today to the point of absurdity that Fight Back! sits with only the Marcyists and orthodox Trots in defending the Chinese State.

    Secondly, I am not impressed that Li Peng was the adopted son of Zhou Enlai. So what? Zhou Enlai’s centrist pragmatism during the cultural revolution led him to reinstate and protect revisionist members of the party. Li Peng himself adopts this authoritarian pragmatism and Confucian style of Zhou Enlai.

    I would recommend any revolutionary communists take a look at the RCP’s interview with Dr.Minqi Li on the Tiananmen and Beijing Massacres

    • Of course this bit about who supports China, the claim that it is such a small group, is nonsense.

      Numerous Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations support China. The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the Workers Party of Belgium, the Communist Party of Greece, the parties that lead the Socialist countries. Of course I could go on and on, but there’s not much point.

      And of course there are many who do not support China. I recognize this. But we don’t gain anything from distorting the debate in this way.

      What has become abundantly clear through the course of this discussion, is that any party or organization that supports China, or doesn’t adhere to some other ultra-left “Maoist” viewpoint (like one-sided support for the GPCR, or upholding the Gang of Four), is slapped with some meaningless label like “Brezhnevite” and tossed out of the ever-shrinking club, as defined by our “Maoists”. It is a sectarian move. This is unforunate. It is a good thing that many serious parties and organizations (including Maoists) don’t have such a sectarian attitude towards the International Communist Movement as some of the posters here.

      It is fine that we should disagree. It is a healthy part of the communist movement, and it is correct to express our disagreements concerning matters of principle. But I have to say that throwing around such useless and empty labels as “Brezhnevite” is unprincipled and is certainly not in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity. Comrade, this is a sincere criticism.

    • Dear Shine the Path:

      You disagree with me. Fine. Let us look at the historical record and then decide who is right and who is wrong.

      You don’t do that. All you do is name calling. You say my post reflects the Brezhnevist line* and you think that disposes of the argument.

      Very few modern American Maoists are willing to get into a substantive discussion of the evidence for their position. I find that very disappointing.

      But the fact is, an analysis which says that the USSR went capitalist under Krushchev is really not tenable in the light of events since 1990.

      As for what China is today, let me humbly suggest that you do not know, nor do you want to know. You are not in the slightest bit interested in analyzing the nature of modern China.

      If you were, then at the very least you would have something to say about the fact that China is a counterweight to the U.S. in world affairs.

      I hope that people reading this are politically mature enough to demand more from a post than name calling, and to recognize that people who are capable of nothing more than name calling have nothing to contribute to a serious political discussion.

      *Who do you suppose I am? A high official in an East European agriculture ministry? Why, with the death of the supposed class which supported “the Brezhnevite line,” has the idea that the Soviet Union was a socialist nation right up until Gorbachev not disappeared? How do you account for the surprising resilience of that idea among people who are not state capitalists because they live in a society where there is plainly no state capitalism, but active revolutionaries?

      And why does anyone hold an idea so stubbornly that they are unwilling to discuss possible flaws in it? Because the idea is useful to them, though it is not correct. In what way, then, is the modern ultra-left Maoist position useful to its major proponents?

  14. I find that the RCP’s 1999 interview with Minqi Li essentially validates the findings of the 1989 Freedom Road article.

    Consider the Kelly article’s forthright characterization of the protests in class terms; cutting through the ideological fog of “civil liberties” and “human rights”, in order to insist that they were in essence, bourgeois and counter-revolutionary:

    There is no such thing as objective truth which exists outside the context of class struggle. Events welcomed by one class will be despised by another …
    [in China] there was a contradiction between those who wished to continue to build socialism and those who picked up the banner of westernization and liberalization.

    In light of this, isn’t it interesting that Minqi Li says right out of the gate:

    I was a student at Beijing University studying economics in 1989. … I suppose my consciousness was by and large the same as most of the university students in China at the time. … I accepted pro-West, pro-capitalist ideology. I believed in Western-style democracy and Western-style capitalism …

    So, tell me again why the PRC was wrong to disperse the students at Tiananmen Square?

    Similarly, the FRSO article’s 2009 introduction say that:

    …many of the counter-revolutionary Chinese students, hyped as heroes by U.S. corporate media, were able to escape justice, reappearing to make their fortunes in the west. …

    Well, a quick Internet search uncovers that Minqi Li is now comfortably ensconced at the University of Utah in the USA, teaching Economics, and busily penning (presumably) hit-pieces on present-day China! Ironic, no?

    On a final note, I am all for ideological clarity. But I find all the instantaneous “-ite” labeling to be inappropriately schematic and lazy in this particular case. After all, the post-Mao PRC is riven with contradictions, and it seems to me that this kind of jargon-mongering is just a way to avoid grappling with those contradictions in a dialectical fashion. It is taking the easy way out.

  15. This type of sectarianism exists as a matter of line, of how one divides into two. The statement by Fight Back!’s Mick Kelley serves to show how revolutionaries can morph themselves into the mouthpiece of a reactionary revisionist clique of the Communist Party of China. And Yes, ComradeZero, I am perfectly aware this line is popular amongst a certain section of the ICM that describes themselves as “Marxist-Leninist.” But there is a particularity of this line that is distinguishes itself from the rest of the revolutionary communist milieu in that its line at one time acknowledges the existence of revisionism and a bourgeois clique in the party and then decides to defend it against the spontaneous morphing struggle of the people. This is the line of what I would call “Brezhnevism.” In fact there is nothing to find unity here about, the question is ultimately a line that should split us, that should put us mutually across different sections.

    I actually appreciate the FRSO piece of the majority against Mick Kelley’s opposition piece – even with the little info that was possessed by revolutionaries in the US, it had the foresight to see what the Dengist clique was up to, smashing the hopes of the people and continuing on the progress of joining the world system of imperialism.

    And calling this the analysis of the “ultra-left” Maoists i once again nonsense – as one of the others tried to unsuccessfuly lay this down as the line of “American” Maoists. No, this has always been a dividing line that has constituted the Maoist movement.

    In this statement signed by some of the major Maoist parties, it articulates that China is certainly a new bourgeois state.

    So lets not try to attempt to fake the lines of discussion – this is a question about what in fact revisionism means. If it is the line of the bourgeoisie disguised as the line of the proletariat, then it means that the Dengist clique had liquidated the dictatorship of the proletariat and their swift blow to students and workers’ and Beijing was to ensure the course of capitalist restoration would continue under their party dictatorship.

    To Peanut’s line, it is always the line of opportunism to change the question of principled questions about political line into identity politics – the assertion Minqi Li is a privileged is literally both irrelevant and absurd. Minqi Li was jailed for several years in China for being a young student in 1990 to dare say what they needed was “Workers’ Democracy.”

    Essentially the line comes down to this, the student leaders had various lines that ultimately resulted in a soft bourgeois liberalism, the workers that joined them were mostly concerned about the capitalist restoration that was happening in China and making their lives harder – as Minqi Li pointed out they were praising the Maoist era of being able to lead struggle against bureaucracy and revisionism.

    There was no central political line, and there was no political organization of any sort amongst the workers and students – but this is clear, the line of the bourgeoisie was in command within the party! The terms of their two line struggle was Li Peng’s Confucian authoritarianism and Zhao Ziyang’s bourgeois liberalism. Deng played ultimate decision maker and finally sided with Li Peng. There was nothing revolutionary in the motives of the Dengist clique’s decision to massacre people in Beijing.

    • “In this statement signed by some of the major Maoist parties, it articulates that China is certainly a new bourgeois state.”

      The major Maoist parties… like the United States Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Revolutionary Study Group? How many masses do they lead?

      The majority of the ICM – you know, the parties that actually have a working class base and lead the class struggle in their respective countries – supports China and the socialist countries. Not just the old CP’s ( but also the anti-revisionist grouping around the International Communist Seminar ( You can shout “revisionist” and “Dengist Clique” all day long, but the fact that the overwhelming majority of these Marxist-Leninist parties are actually fused with the workers movement in their respective countries and lead the masses in struggle should give you pause. Especially when, with precious few exceptions, the organizations that go by “Maoism” tend to be irrelevant ultra-left sects whose principal activity becomes online criticisms of the Marxist-Leninists who are actually constructing revolutionary organization in the real world.

      • This isn’t about showing your flex in numbers – if you want to play that game, you lose.

        Ahem who else sign that statement? Communist Party of the Philippines (they initiated it), Communist Party of India (Maoist), Communist Party of Turkey (Marxist-Leninist), Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany, etc.

        – So the whole “irrelevant ultra-left sects” token argument is boring and wrong considering that three of those parties are engaged in People’s War. –

        This is a matter of line, and yes when your trend is upholding “Number 2” capitalist roader and even what the ICS has recognized as the revisionist party of the Communist Party of China you should be up for a bit of criticism. Did I call you Dengists? No, but you’re upholding them on this question that is clear.

        Trying to stand on the shoulders of Li Peng against the rising up of the masses of people – and lets even give the students a “bourgeois liberal” character for argument (and probably in all reality) – is wrong.

        Deng Xiaoping firmly consolidated power under his line. The politics in command were the politics of revisionism, the politics of the bourgeois in place of the proletariat – thats been the case for more than three decades now…so whats the substantial argument that allows you to uphold “acutally existing socialism” in China?

  16. Actually in retrospect I’ll admit to the obvious loadedness of the term “Brezhnevite” that Maoists use to describe the line of FRSO (Fight Back!) or any other similar organizations, but that term sits there to serves as the obvious filler for the lack of description of your own line beyond “Marxism-Leninism.” The historical anti-revisionist and leading parties of the ICM, the Party of Labor of Albania and the Communist Party of China, understood revisionism to be the liquidation of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat and there are many other self-described Marxist-Leninist parties that uphold that.

    If I were to call this the “ICS-ist trend” (International Communist Seminar) or Marten-ist (Ludo Martens) trend, would this be preferable? I won’t simply call its Marxism-Leninism, it is in my opinion that isn’t the whole opinion of that self-described trend – fortunately, as a Maoist, I get a bit of ability to describe nearly homogeneously the line of Maoists on the question of revisionism.

    • My objection to your post has little to do with what you label my position and everything to do with your unwillingness — so far unwavering — to discuss the substance of the matter.

      The USSR was social-imperialist by 1970, yes? And Cuba was therefore a colony, yes? Then why, when the Soviet Union went away, did the Cuban economy suddenly decline? Surely the removal of the exploiter would free it to expand hugely, yes?

      And if Cuba was a Soviet colony, then the Castro regime was nothing but lackeys, compradors for the Soviet social imperialists. So, when their masters and their foreign support went away, and they faced still the same enormous foreign against them, how on earth could they have survived?

      It makes no sense.

      The other part of my objection to your post is simply this: You consider the Chinese revisionist. Do you consider me revisionist? Evidently. And evidently this is enough for you to say that there is to be no solidarity no cooperation between us. Understood.

      But then, what is the nature of my revisionism? As I said in my prior post, of course I am not a member of a state capitalist class. I am not an objective class enemy in that sense. So then why not try criticizing me? Why not try explaining the nature of my error to me, so that I can have some hope of correcting it?

      This failure on your part seems to show an unhealthy disinterest in the unity of the international communist movement.

      At one time, I think the basis for this disinterest was a view on the part of some Maoists that the communist parties which supported the USSR were merely agents of the social imperialists. Well, there is no more USSR, and here we still are. You cannot dismiss us in that way now.

    • Do you think that perhaps this emphasis on labels has a certain schismatic aspect to it?

  17. “Trying to stand on the shoulders of Li Peng against the rising up of the masses of people – and lets even give the students a “bourgeois liberal” character for argument (and probably in all reality) – is wrong.

    Deng Xiaoping firmly consolidated power under his line. The politics in command were the politics of revisionism, the politics of the bourgeois in place of the proletariat – thats been the case for more than three decades now…so whats the substantial argument that allows you to uphold “acutally existing socialism” in China?”

    1. Whether or not China is actually socialist, China is an enemy of the main enemy of the world proletariat, namely the U.S. led block of international monopoly capitalists. This is why the two countries have all those nuclear missiles aimed at each other, for instance. If the Tiananmen Square demonstrators had had their way, China would be a number of lackey states. Think Yugoslavia.

    The U.S. would have no opposition in the world.

    Imagine the consequences for the people of China of a Yugoslavia style breakup. There would be tens of millions of dead as a result, at a bare minimum.

    Sane communists prefer nationalists in third world countries to compradors.

    2. What basis do I have for saying that China remains socialist?

    A. The principle parts of the economy remain in state hands.

    Consider the importance of finance in advanced capitalism. If you have not considered it before, read what Lenin has to say about it in his Imperialism book. Then consider that the banks in China are virtually all in state hands.

    The state owned enterprises are the largest economic players in China, and have enormous roles in many sectors. They are now well capitalized, and the Chinese regime has spent an enormous amount of effort and money on strengthening them.

    Even the private enterprises are in many cases largely state owned. Lenovo is an excellent example. This major computer manufacturer, organized as a private corporation, is about 40% owned by the Chinese government. The Chinese government, due to the manner in which its ownership is organized, controls the selection of the board of directors completely.

    Although in capitalist societies we occasionally see some part of the economy in state hands, it is usually one of two cases: Heavy industry, because it is militarily important but not very profitable, or natural resources, because of their peculiar nature.

    There is no capitalist example of a country in which the high tech industry is largely state owned.

    B. Wage labor for private employers is the exception.

    This is the basic mechanism of capitalism: The exploitation of the wage laborer by the capitalist. But in China, most people don’t work for a capitalist. They work for themselves, for a collective, or for the state.

    In early capitalism, of course, wage laborers may not be numerically prevalent. Wage labor may be the dominant form of exploitation only because it exists in the most profitable, modern industries: In the part of the economy which is growing, rather than dying.

    But in China, even in the most modern, highly capitalized, industries, the state remains the largest employer. And there is no indication it is going to go away.

    C. China is not an imperialist power. It is not invading foreign countries or meddling in the internal politics of foreign countries in order to secure investment opportunities or markets.

    Capitalists cloud this issue by pointing out that China is working very hard to sign contracts for natural resources with countries in Africa and the like. But Marxists shouldn’t be confused because imperialism is characterized not by the importation of resources but by the exportation of capital.

    3. What does this mean about the class nature of government in China and the nature of the communist party of China?

    If they are a capitalist party, representing the bourgeoisie — merely having a few bourgeois members is not the criterion here, as anyone who knows the life story of Engels can see — why have they not turned the most profitable sectors of the economy over to the capitalists for capitalist exploitation?

    There is no answer.

    If they are not the party of the capitalists, and they hold power, then we know they can only be the party of the working class, since no other class can hold power.

    This does not mean they are perfect. It does not mean they are not committing errors. But it does mean they are entitled to solidarity, and it means that we should see them basically as allies rather than as enemies. And, further, we should keep in mind the considerable body of information about Chinese conditions which they have and most of us do not, and the considerable talent and energy which they have expended on coming up with a solution for China before jumping to the conclusion they are wrong.

  18. Comrade Armadillo,

    You make a considerable mistake assuming though of us who identify as Maoist uphold the RCP’s simplistic analysis of Cuba or any other country. The RCP doesn’t speak for Maoists. They don’t even mention MLM in their latest constitution.

    I will contribute more later..

    • If I have misjudged you, I apologize. But if we say that the Soviet Union was a capitalist country as of 1970, it is hard to understand the relationship between them and Cuba as other than that of master and colony, isn’t it?

      If we accept that the Cuba is socialist (and really, how can we not?), then considering all the interaction they had with the Soviet Union, how can they possibly have missed the fact that the Soviet Union was capitalist? Even assuming they had to keep quiet about it at the time due to their reliance on the Soviet Union, why now? They have written on the subject, but they haven’t written that.

  19. It would be of great value if Comrade Amarillo were to take up some fine points in the use of reason and logic into arguments, what his/her last piece amounted to was nothing more than a list of strawmen and non-sequiturs. I have really no time and patience in dealing with Comrade Amarillo’s point, because simply they fall on their own sword if you deconstruct their simple logic.

    Lets first deal with some simple points in Marxism, socialism is not identical to a large amount of state-owned enterprises (SOE), which in China are virtually all failing in the neo-liberal structural adjustments schemes that were pushed forward by Jiang Zemin in the 90s’, nor is it identical with state ownership banks; it is true that the PRC owns the top 4 banks in majority stock holding, alongside Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Its not enough for there to be state-ownership of industry and finance, the question is what is the character of the state and how do those industries actually function?

    Socialism is the dictatorship of the proletariat in transition to communism, any other definition for it is simply a revisionist distortion – quite literally this was what the question of revisionism meant throughout the history of the communist movement; revisionism in command means the politics of the bourgeoisie in command.

    China’s course since the Dengist coup has been overall a tendency to liberalize the markets, disband collective farming, neglect SOEs’ in heavy industry, and to allow imperialist blocs of capital compete and establish centers of production. This means today the huge wealth gap between rich and poor, unemployment in the hundreds of mullions, incredible difference between the rural country-side and the cities, incredible swindling and corruption amongst in the CPC and nepotism that spawns through the economy and society, and we can go on.

    Within the CPC’s crisis in dealing with the student and worker movement of 1989, there was no real revolutionary position. The struggle was in essence a struggle between the bourgeois reformers like Zhao Ziyang and confucian authoritarians like Li Peng. This was the main issue amongst the reformers and the conservatives, whether or not to let economic liberalization mean political liberalization. To paraphrase Stalin of which is worse, both were worse. Supporting any of this Dengist gang is thoroughly wrong and foolish.


    On the wrong notion that China is a counter-hegemony to the US. It is not. Pure and simple, in fact the recent crisis demonstrated more than anything how they sit hand and hand together. China buys US bonds at astounding rate because they’re dependent on the US as a market, and to not buy US bonds would mean to depreciate the value of the US dollar, weakening the market and making Chinese assets begin to crumble. The US and China are structurally dependent to the point right now to the point of mutually assured meltdown of both economies if one or the other flops.

    Second, China’s economy is dependent on foriegn capital, through US Bonds, private industry contracting, and so on. It is in a sense dependent on imperialism – it is also at the same time a large player, relatively autonomous from other imperialist powers and carries on the same game in Africa and Latin America – destroying local industries and exploiting labor (and here we’re talking about SOEs’) from Chinese Oil, Chinese Construction, and Chinese Mining.

    • First, you completely ignored a couple of my points which I really think you should answer.

      1. Was the Soviet Union capitalist? If so, what do make of Cuba?

      2. Are you interested in winning over communists who adhere to the “Brezhnevite line?” If not, why not? If so, why so dismissive of us?

      Now, as to capitalism or socialism in China:

      Dialecticians analyze things in terms of being and becoming: Where they are now and where they are going. Not only is an analysis which ignores the question of where they are now necessarily only half an analysis, but it is likely to get the other half wrong as well. You cannot understand where a thing is going without understanding where it is now. That may be half of your problem here: You do not understand where China was or where China is, and therefore you cannot grasp where it is going.

      Is the current Chinese economy a highly developed capitalist economy in the throes of decay? If it were, the banks and the profitable industries would be privately owned. The state would be actively encouraging religion and racism. And they would be engaged in imperialist wars.

      Is China a nation in transition from socialism to capitalism, slowly pulling apart the last vestiges of the socialist state created in Mao’s time? Then, if with the crushing of the Tianenman Square movement, the capitalist roaders consolidated their control of the state apparatus, the ideological apparatus, etc., why, twenty years later, are the capitalist leaders of China denying Chinese capitalists their best opportunities for profit?

      Is China a nation under the dictatorship of the proletariat led by the a revolutionary party in a stage of transition from capitalism to communism?

      We know what this stage looks like: It is characterized by state ownership of the means of production and a system of rewards based on labor. Working people hold high posts in government. Relations with foreign countries are based on proletarian solidarity rather than aspirations to conquest.

      Really, that is what China looks like.

      The only reason to doubt it is that the Chinese leaders have deliberately chosen a uniquely slow pace of change. They call this “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

      Undoubtedly there are subjective characteristics involved in that, but there are objective characteristics as well. The primary one of those is the relatively low development of China, both in 1949 and indeed still today. By some figures, per capita consumption in China in 2009 is less than half of per capita consumption in Cuba.

      It stands to reason that a shockingly underdeveloped socialist country would look different from a more developed socialist country.

      And, indeed, the justifications raised by the Chinese leadership for socialism with Chinese characteristics overwhelmingly point to the success of this formula in rapidly developing the country. This has allowed the Chinese government to raise millions of peasants out of desperate straits in rural areas, to lay the infrastructure for development of such geographically impenetrable areas as Tibet, and so on.

      This has been possible only due to another peculiar objective characteristic of socialist China: It has been isolated from friendly socialist nations since the 1970s, and therefore could not count on socialist methods of development assistance in any amount sufficient to be meaningful to such a massive country. Because of this, it has relied on capitalist foreign investment to further its internal development.

      Now, to the notion that the Tiananmen movement was simply anti-authoritarian revisionists:

      I find it very hard to believe someone could seriously hold to what you say. Do you not think that if much of China is still owned by the government then there is a more right-wing course of action to pursue? Do you think that no one in China is interested in such a course of action? Do you think that those who do support such a course stood on the sidelines of Tiananmen Square? Do you think that foreign governments were not involved?

      As to the question of whether or not China is a counterweight to the U.S. in world affairs, Malarkey has answered fairly well. But he left out the role of China in Latin America, i.e. in Cuba, Venezuela, etc., which have strengthened their trade and political relations with China as a hedge against the U.S.

    • If you want to talk about logical inconsistencies then that is fine. Here is one. Regarding the Tiananmen protests, Minqi Li takes pains to say that he and his fellow protesters had a “pro-capitalist ideology”, and that they were fighting for “Western-style democracy and Western-style capitalism.” Yet you insist that he went to jail for fighting for “Workers’ Democracy.” How is this possible?

      But this paradox is really just a consequence of the false dilemma that the so-called “Maoist” pseudo-argument presents. Stripped of all the irrelevant details, feints, and tangential side-tracking in the discussion so far, it is simply this: if it is taken as a matter of course that (1) the Chinese government is against the workers, then (2) if the Tiananmen protesters were against the Chinese government, then (3) it must be the case that the Tiananmen protesters were for the workers. The problem of course, is that no evidence has been marshaled for showing that this is so. In fact, abundant evidence to the contrary is in plain view, not the least of which is the words of the protesters themselves.

      But besides being a classic example of logically fallacious reasoning, it is a political sin, because it replaces the concrete analysis of material conditions with wishful thinking and daydreams. No amount of sniffy “more Mao than thou” posturing can cover this up.

      It is true that the question of which mode of the means of production predominates in China is an important one. Personally, I am skeptical about claims that capitalism has been completely restored. However, strictly speaking, the nature of the Chinese state in 1989 is secondary to the question of whether or not it was under attack by US imperialism. And it is hardly a revelation at this point in the game to point out in the game that US imperialism was on an all-out assault against the entire ‘socialist camp’ in the late 1980s, one that was largely successful. If so, then how could it not be a good thing to for the Chinese state to resist imperialism, to thwart its designs, to defend itself, whatever the case? There is no part in the Leninist theory of imperialism which equivocates about this. If something weakens imperialism, it is good. If it strengthens imperialism, it is bad. And in this sense alone, it doesn’t make a difference whether a “black cat” or a “white cat” is catching the mouse.

  20. After reading the article and comments, I have a little something to add.

    Where is the analysis of the relationship between base and superstructure in relation to the current Chinese state? My opinion is that those who uphold this state as socialist or proletarian or whatever grossly overestimate the role of the base, and underestimate that of the superstructure.

    I mean, how can a socialist economy (base) continue or drag on for three decades with a thoroughly counterrevolutionary superstructure? Doesn’t that fly smack in the face of basic materialism?

    In fact, yes, it does.

    Mao said, ” Politics is the concentrated expression of economics.” That is, the superstructure (not in any direct or mechanical sense) is representative of the economic base. If China’s economy is socialist, how can its superstructure display all forms of capitalism and anti-communism?!

    Socialism contains the seeds of capitalist restoration within it. From small production, global trade, to the thinking of the people, socialism requires wave after wave of communist political struggle that not only strives to overcome the vestiges of capitalism still present within socialism, but looks to maintain and forge generation after generation of revolutionary people to preserve and further the socialist road.

    Class struggle does not wane under the dictatorship of the proletariat – it intensifies. It becomes a life and death struggle not only in the economic and political sphere, but the ideological one. The bourgeoisie, overthrown as a class, persists ideologically. And THIS is the basis of Mao’s theory on the cultural revolution and emergence of a new bourgeois under socialism (and the need for cultural revolution to continue socialism and prevent counterrevolution). THIS is what happened in China. Deng Xiaoping and his fellow capitalist-roaders became representatives of capitalism (inevitable under socialism due existence of capitalist elements within it and its manifestation in the highest political centers) and won the struggle against those who wanted to maintain socialism.

    Therefore, to say the Maoist conclusion about the counterrevolution in China is “reformist” is simply incorrect. China was not a capitalist society in 1976. It was a nation undergoing intense socialist transformation (in all spheres of life). Unfortunately, the capitalist-roaders were able to capitalize on its weaknesses and take China down the road to the place it is today.

  21. Apparently ShinethePath’s reading skills are lacking. Where did anyone argue that socialism was simply a matter of state-ownership of industries?

    Maoists have turned to metaphysics to argue against socialist China. China is not “socialist” because of ideas people have (or allegedly have). The superstructure determines the base…Marxism backwards.

    These “Maoists”, at least the scribbling Kasama types, do not care about China being a counterweight to US monopoly capitalism. They’ve largely supported every putsch, turmoil, and counterrevolution from 1989 onward. (Most of them supported the ’68 uprising in Prague too). They’ve largely supported NATO interventions around the world. That’s why they can sit here and breathlessly claim that the US is “working with China” for the interests of imperialism, despite the fact that China has blocked interventions in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Myanmar, and actively assisted Yugoslavia in defending itself, blocked legalization of the Iraq war, etc. The Maoists support all such interventions, or at the least are indifferent to them.

  22. Jose:

    When you say that the superstructure is thoroughly capitalist, I think you must be referring to the people in the superstructure. You cannot be referring to, say the Constitution of the Communist Party of China, which still mentions Marxism-Leninism, nor even to Xinhua net, which talks about Chinese socialism. Neither one of those is “thoroughly capitalist”. You may call them revisionist, but you will search the pages of the “thoroughly capitalist” press in Britain or the United States in vain for any mention of Marx.

    So are the people in power in China “thoroughly capitalist?” The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    Thorough-going capitalists don’t mind government ownership of bankrupt auto companies, but thorough capitalists recoil from the thought of the government being the main player in the highly profitable high tech industry.

    Thorough-going capitalists invade foreign countries for markets, investment opportunities and resources.

    Thorough-going capitalists don’t fight religious cults with Stalin’s books on atheism.


    If Mao said Deng was a capitalist roader, the facts have proven Mao wrong. Mao was a human being, though an exceptionally brilliant one. He was not the pope of Marxism, speaking from his sacred throne. He made mistakes.

  23. I need to make this clear:

    even though STP and I work with the Kasama Project, we are not speaking in its name. Our views and comments should be considered as solely ours.


    can you provide evidence as to where Maoists and us “Kasama types” have supported imperialist intervention?

    Mao developed the relationship between superstructure and base in a dialectical manner – in a time when the mechanical and dry Marxism of Stalin and many other capitalist-roaders in China held a deeply deterministic view.

    What Mao was trying to get at is that “line is decisive.” In order to have socialism and further THAT road, the correct line needs to be in command. For example, when cadre, soldiers, and workers teamed up to transform the relations within the factories and workplaces, the political line played a decisive role in HOW that all turned out. This was communist theory in action.

    There is a view amongst revisionists (older and modern ones) that view people under socialism as secondary, as cogs to the productive forces. After all, the only thing we need to reach communism is developed capitalism right? They believed class struggle needed to take the backseat to production, technicalities, and administration. Mao struggled against this, maintaining a revolutionary and dialectical view: people make history, and their role within a socialist state is the most decisive one.

    The revisionist theory places production and technique (and administration) at the helm of socialist construction, rather than human beings and class struggle itself. When you implement production for the sake of production, then you take the capitalist road. Sure, there are times when the productive forces play the decisive role. Socialist revolution seeks to liberate these forces, but, if they go unchecked, are a hotbed of capitalist development which can lead to disastrous consequences.

    Sure, there definitely is a dialectical relationship between the two, but all in all, human beings need to consciously uphold and take up communism as their goal under socialism (and continuosly lead transformations towards that).

    A new society will not “naturally appear” when the productive forces are more developed. This view believes that people’s self-less work would propel society forward, rather than continuing the class struggle under socialism (the basis of the GPCR). This view (the revisionist one) believes that modernization and technology are key, while class struggle gets in the way of that development and actually hurts it. Thus, people are viewed as objects, as simply “productive forces”, rather than conscious makers of history.

    These people put profit first, technique, specialist, and experts in control. Where do workers and peasants come in? How can we get to communism if we aren’t working towards facilitating the transformations that allow the people to control society and lead it towards communism?

  24. Undoubtedly you make a valid point, Jose. But there are a couple of things to think about here:

    1. Not every mistake by revolutionary leadership means that the path of socialism has been abandoned. Context must be considered, as well as the extent of the mistake.

    2. It is very hard for us to have a concrete understanding of the totality of Chinese conditions. Most of the news that most of us get from China is from the Western media, which is deliberately propagating as negative a view of China as it can — once again demonstrating the absurdity of shinethepath’s contention that China and the U.S. are allied. So how much of what you are saying is going on we can’t really say from here.

    3. It is also possible to make a mistake on the left. Development is important. The only people who think that a lifestyle built on animal husbandry is quaint and romantic are those who have never been bitten by fleas.

  25. Economics is the motor of history.

    _____ Yes ________ No

  26. CA:

    I think your post demonstrates the weaknesses of your position.

    1. I don’t know where this plays in. I mean, its obvious that revolutionary leaders make mistakes. They’re human. I never contested this.

    2. So…if we don’t live in China we can’t understand what’s going on? I don’t think anyone here doubts the one-sidedness and ultimately bourgeois nature of the current media. And, what makes you think that’s where STP gets all his information from?

    I often debate liberals and reactionaries on the war in Iraq and they tell me all the time that I can’t understand what’s going on over there better than American soldiers. These soldiers do have a personal and perceptual understanding I can’t possibly have, but they don’t have the conceptual understanding I do. They are soldiers killing for an imperialist army, I’m a communist studying that event in relation to global imperialism.

    This isn’t an excuse to dismiss STP’s politics. He clearly has made investigation, and you need to prove your own if you hope to challenge him. Of course the media says negative things about China, but they don’t make the same analysis revolutionaries like STP do! That’s silly.

    in short: this cop out you use is the best way to never understand the world and to thus never change it. It’s an excuse for lack of a legitimate comeback. Of course we can understand world events without being a personal participant, but this requires open-mindedness, critical thinking, and a dedication to the cause.

    3. I mean, what is this?

    Please try to provide a more substantial and serious response to my posts.

  27. Jose,

    My last post was directed to your post, not to STPs. You said that China needed to do certain things. I said yes it did, but you don’t know whether they are or are not, and even if they aren’t, that doesn’t make them capitalists.

    As to whether STP has done his homework, he hasn’t. He says that there are hundreds of millions of unemployed in China. There aren’t. The highest figure I can find is 9% as of 2003. That would be less than a hundred million, and is from the BBC, which gives, as we say, very negative views of China. The real number is probably much lower.

    That’s about the only time he gives a hard figure. Hard figures are hard work. Conclusory arguments are much easier.

  28. The Kasama Project largely parroted/parrots the imperialist line on Yugoslavia, line by line. I’ve read all of their screeds on the subject and it is all utter garbage, totally ahistorical, perpetuating hoaxes, blood-libels, and lies, and serves the interests of the imperialism and the NATO intervention. There is no difference between the Kasama line and many Trotskyite groups. At least some members of the Kasama project support the so-called Tiananmen Square turmoil (‘it is right to rebel against “reactionaries”). Joining hands with those who want to overthrow socialism in China. They support the racist anti-Han ethnic cleansers in Tibet and murder of children (Mike Ely wrote a lot about this).

    Since all revisionist states are ‘reactionary’, then I imagine the putschs and coups that brought about capitalist restoration were thoroughly ‘good things’, (via the same logic as the Tiananmen and Tibet turmoils). I’ve also heard Kasama-ites parrot imperialist talking points on Myanmar.

  29. As for the post that defends the metaphysical line that ideas lead to change in the superstructure and not vice versa, it is a nice example of a straw man argument.

    No one says ‘line doesn’t matter’. But line by itself doesn’t lead to wholesale changes in the economic system. That may be “dialectics”, of the metaphysical kind. Without economic development, line means nothing. And line must be understood, as Comrade Armadillo has said, in context. You can’t make the claim that every time there’s a ‘bad line’ that means capitalist roaders have taken control of the party and capitalist restoration is being undertaken. Mao wrote an important pamphlet on the role of criticism and self criticism. It’s a method of improving work and correcting bad ‘line’. The method does not involve splitting off, denouncing the people with bad line as ‘reactionaries’, and being dogmatic. It involves working with those who erred in good faith, on the basis of unity-struggle-unity, and understanding the mistake in the context in which it was made.

    China, while having flawed ‘line’ on some issues, is trying to survive in the context of being encircled by imperialists, in a world with very few socialist states (according to you, no socialist states). This needs to be taken into account.

  30. Is that it, Malarky?

    Why does it seem like every time revisionist politics are exposed for what they are, their proponents stoop down to an even lower level?

    It doesn’t do very good to simply say we (meaning as individuals, not representatives of Kasama) hold imperialist positions. You need to prove it. Explain how “our” positions on Yugoslavia, China (why put quotes around “reactionaries” when that’s what they are?), and Tibet.

    In addition, please provide a response to the actual substance of that post (i.e. on politics/economics, base/superstructure, and the reactionary theory of the productive forces).

  31. note: ignore the last paragraph of my last comment.

    Where did I say line itself leads to “wholesale changes in the economic system”?

    I said that line played a decisive role in that process. How can you transform society and train people to become masters of society if that entire process is not consciously led by a vibrant and creative marxism? You hold the evolutionary and dogmatic view that all is needed economic development: from feudalism, to capitalism, and then socialism. It’s a view that denies the primary role of human agency, overestimates the role of the productive forces in relation to the relations of production. It’s a view that would have people engage in selfless drudgery for the sake of economic development (since that’s all we need to achieve communism right….).

    Of course every time there’s a bad line it doesn’t mean there’s been counterrevolution. There were countless “bad lines” during the entire Chinese revolutionary process. Same goes for the process in Russia. It is an inevitable result of revolution; varying social forces begin to pull on the politics and policies of those in power, many times leading them astray of the revolutionary road. The problem lies in not allowing those wrong lines to consolidate themselves and lead society (as they ultimately did with Khrushchev and Deng).

    I’m not here to denounce you, comrade. I’m here to have principled debate on a very serious matter. But I’m not going to play liberal. I’m providing arguments for my position in a respectful manner. I’m sorry if what I’m saying shakes your political views.

    China doesn’t have flawed line on some issues. That’s not the point. It’s a capitalist state operating within the context of a world imperialist system. And only another socialist revolution can change that.

  32. You need proof that saying China is ‘reactionary’ and supporting counterrevolution by pro-western bourgeois liberals and racist anti-Han riots by feudal fanatic religious cultists is objectively pro-imperialist?

    Destroying socialist China would leave Chinese most profitable sectors open to capitalist exploitation, China would be a vassal state of the West, Chinese opposition to imperialist expansionism throughout the world would be nullified, Taiwan and Tibet would be independent, allowed to be a feudal religious authoritarian cult-state with the peasants of Tibet back in the shackles of slavery in one case.

    The continual demonization and blood libel of Serbia and Yugoslavia has resulted in the division of the Balkans into mini ethnically pure, in some cases fascist inclined client states of western capital. NATO is now a permanent fixture in Bosnia and KLA-occupied Kosovo. Roma and Serbs have been ethnically cleansed from the fascist KLA-led terrorist state. Wahhabi mosques and religious fundamentalism has been injected into Bosnia. Bosnia is now a base for Iranian expansionism and al-Qaeda. The most shining example of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious harmonious society has been turned into a medieval harbor of fanatics. Serbia, the only reliably anti-fascist state in the region, a people that sacrificed huge numbers to defeat fascism while their neighbors happily aided it, has been blood-libeled into being the ‘aggressor’ while their people have been the victims of the biggest act of ethnic cleansing since WWII.

    In order to survive, these weak mini-states have to completely restructure their previously socially owned economies into being appendages of western capital.

    The Kasama project line is objectively pro-imperialist.

  33. I think your posts are becoming more and more ridiculous. So I’ll say a few things and then not debate you anymore (unless you begin to show some substance and respect).

    First off, we don’t support any imperialist takeover of Tibet. Mike Ely of the Kasama Project wrote an extensive article on the role of the Maoist revolution in Tibet.

    There is absolutely nothing to defend in China. I’ve provided my arguments as to why. Feel free to actually engage them.

  34. I never said all that was needed was development. If this is so serious to you, then stop deliberately mischaracterizing my views. I’m not minimizing the role of ‘human agency’, but nor do I think that good line will magically occur devoid of certain economic transformations. Materials precede consciousness. This is a basic Marxist tenet. Maoism has reversed it.

    You say that as soon as a bad line is consolidated and gains power then restoration occurs, but then how do we explain the undoing of previous ‘revisionist policies’? Brezhnev (who is denounced by the Kasama project) undid a number of the revisionist policies of Khrushchov. How is this to be explained? Husak reversed the policies of Dubcek. Kadar reversed the policies of Nagy. Zhivkov reversed his own policies of ‘revisionism’ after 1968, as did Honecker in the 1970s.

    Seems like a bit more is needed besides the so-called ‘consolidation of power’ by ‘revisionists’ in order to restore capitalism.

  35. That’s fine, I’m growing weary of defending China from a sectarian debating society that has no interest in building unity and has no interest in defending the achievements of socialism.

  36. Maoism has reversed nothing (besides the capitalist system).

    Material does precede thinking. Duh. Yet neither Marx nor Mao were economic determinists (and Mao upheld the Marxist view).

    Ever read “On Practice” by Mao?

  37. Evidently Maoism didn’t “reverse the capitalist system”, if all it took was some people with ‘revisionist’ ideas to lead party policy and socialism is undone with lightning speed. “Maoism” believes socialism is pretty flimsy, shallow, and easily destroyed.

  38. It wasn’t done with “lightning speed.”

    The nature of the struggle changed in 1949 to the fundamental contradiction between the proletariat and bourgeoisie. It was a struggle that began as soon as the PRC was proclaimed and ended with Mao’s death and the defeat of the Cultural Revolution.

    Capitalist-roaders usurped power through intense and often violent political struggle. It’s hard to imply there was anything simple about this process.

    Maoism doesn’t believe socialism is weak. It explains the class nature of socialism and the need for continuous revolutionary political struggle to further socialist transition.

    Deng’s counterrevolution proved Mao correct (in an unfortunate and horrifying context) about the danger of capitalist-roaders within the party and the possibility of capitalist restoration beginning in the highest centers of political power (the CCP).

  39. Comrade Hua Guofeng is a roader, too, apparently? If it didn’t even take Deng being in power for the “capitalist roaders” to restore capitalism, then it seems pretty quick to me. Very little apparently needed to be done, once in power, to restore capitalism. The entire economic structure is turned ‘bourgeois’ simply by Mao dying.

    You talk about the masses are the makers of history, yet according to you socialism couldn’t survive a leader. Doesn’t make any sense.

  40. Alright. Well, this has generally bogged down, so I’m going to sum up what I have to say about the article and what I understand the remaining disagreements to be.

    Concerning the article, I’m going to say:

    1. It’s very good, very detailed. A shorter document, perhaps referring to this one, might be helpful as an additional document, however, simply setting forth the analysis which this article backs up.

    2. Some of the predictions in the article turned out not to be correct. Cde. Kelly was hopeful that the defeat of the Tiananmen protesters would mean a significant shift to the left in China on the economic front, and it didn’t. Cde. Kelly saw the defeat of the Tianenman protests as weakening Deng, but we now know that Deng came out of them stronger than ever and not only named his own successor, but even named Hu Jintao as Jiang Ze Min’s eventual successor before his death.

    3. The article therefore is only background on China today and doesn’t explicitly set out an analysis of where China is now.

    On the disagreements, I think it’s like this:

    1. Everyone but the Kasama people seems to see the defeat of the Tianenman protesters as a defeat of imperialism. This is true even if the Chinese are not viewed as still socialist; most of us consider them at the least to be nationalists. The Kasama people, on the other hand, support the protesters, although I’m not sure they are quite clear why.

    2. Then there are those who are willing to say that China is in the primary stage of socialist construction, taking an extremely conservative socialist route owing to conditions both objective and subjective. But these people still see China as an ally and point to the continued to dominance of the state sector in the Chinese economy and the moderately left-wing nature of Chinese foreign policy. Others take the view that Deng restored capitalism. Some prove this with reference to the capitalist sector in the Chinese economy, though I think a lot of them don’t understand the limits of the capitalist sector. Others simply say that the rollback of the cultural revolution means that capitalism must have come soon after.

  41. I largely agree with Comrade Armadillo. While I certainly disagree with parts of Kelly’s analysis, and I sympathize with some of the apparent sentiment that drives the, shall we say, “Avakianist” line (at least, vis á vis the so-called “Brezhnevist” position expressed here), I think we can all agree that the lessons of Tiananmen are still relevant and ought to be scrutinized by revolutionaries everywhere.

    I hope that Mick Kelly or somebody else in Freedom Road Socialist Organization could find the time to update the article in question to reflect concrete analysis of the latest findings. A lot has happened in the last two decades. Similarly, while the current “Avakianist” analysis (such as it is) as expressed here is basically vestigial at this time, and it seems to flow from what I consider to be logically invalid premises, I would wholeheartedly encourage them to engage in a more thoughtful refutation of the Freedom Road line based on a more coherent analysis of the events in question than what we have found here.

    As Mao said, we should not be afraid of criticism from any quarter. Plants raised raised in hothouses are not likely to be robust!

  42. The so-called “Avakianist” analysis of China is actually the Maoist, revolutionary communist one.

    You make it seem as if the Brezhnevite line is on equal footing with the “Avakianist” line. Umm…last time I checked, Maoists who have or who are engaged in people’s war are the ones who uphold this “Avakianist line.”…Nepal, Philippines, India, Peru, etc.).

    That’s all.

    • Certainly it would be a mistake to judge the Maoist line by its American adherents. That I can well agree with. My hat, too, is off to the CP Philippines for its long and awe inspiring history of people’s war.

  43. I’d like to see evidence that the Nepali party supports counterrevolution in China.

    • Comrade Armadillo

      I’ve seen nothing to indicate that any of the Maoist parties in Asia supported the Tiananmen protesters. The Nepalese Maoists pursued closer ties to China while they are in power, and the South Asian Maoists in general say that India, with U.S. backing, is the main imperialist power in the region.

      But they absolutely call Deng Xiao Peng a revisionist who restored capitalism in China.

      • Prachanda : “For the masses there is no alternative to rebellion and revolution, given the objective background of exploitation, repression and poverty prevalent in the semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries of the Third World. In Nepal, our first effort was to correctly grasp the science of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. For this, we strove to link ourselves with the arduous and challenging ideological struggle waged by the genuine communist revolutionaries of the world against the Chinese counter-revolution after the death of Comrade Mao Tse-tung. Taking the synthesis of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the highest expression of conscious class struggle, as our starting point, we delved into serious study.”

  44. Why is it that the Maoists pretend that there are no Marxist-Leninist guerillas aside from the ‘Maoists’? And so therefore their ‘line’ has more legitimacy because of people’s war?

    There’s a people’s war going on in Colombia that has nothing to do with the RIM. There was a long people’s war in Sri Lanka, again, no RIM. There are brave comrades in Pakistan who have been repressed by the government that are not in RIM. The Egyptian Communist opposition that has led strikes and resistance to the Mubarak government, is not in RIM.

    So please, Maoists, stop waving people’s war in our face in an attempt to de-legitimize anyone with a different line.

    • No one is denying those movements existence and their worth, but don’t act that the line that China is revisionist an capitalist is an “American” Maoist line, its the line of the whole Maoist movement around the world by and large. Even with respect to that, straight-jacketing people as being “American” is simply absurd – most of the commentators here are American or live in America.

      The politics of identity is a manifestation of liberalism, carry forward a political line struggle.

  45. Hey so I wanted to point out to others that this piece by Mick Kelly was an oppositional piece in the pre-split FRSO. It seems the FRSO line in 1989 was represented in a piece done by Dennis O’Neil in the FRSO magazine “Foward Motion.” That has been posted up on the blog Fire on the Mountain.

    I wanted to see what people thought about that article in comparison to the Mick Kelly one.

  46. It is no coincidence that Dennis ONeil and other pro-counterrevolution types have long since abandoned Marxism Leninism and claim we need to ‘refound’ the left into something more appealing to petty bourgeois liberals (which likely speaks to what is to become of the various American Maoist groups).

    When was this Prachanda quote from, where is it from?

  47. Shine the Path:

    One more point:

    Certainly the Nepalese Maoists, the Philippine Maoists, and world Maoists in general agree, as I said, that China became capitalist as a result of Deng’s ascension to power.

    What they do not seem to agree with you on is that China is equally the enemy with the United States. At least from what I understand of the action of the Prachanda government in Nepal, they built closer ties to China. They emphasized trade ties, but also they prevented pro-Dalai Lama protests, etc.

    How can these two things be reconciled? China is not the world’s leading imperialist power and the United States is.

    The Maoist line that the Soviet Union was an equal threat to the world revolution with the United States was based on two things:

    1. The Soviet Union was a capitalist and indeed an imperialist power; and

    2. The Soviet Union was enormously powerful.

    Even if China is capitalist, it has no where near the power or influence of the Soviet Union. So applying the same stance to it doesn’t make sense.

    In fact, so far as I can tell, the CP Philippines is the most hostile to China out of all the Asian Maoist parties because China is actually involved in the Philippines. But then, of course, China was involved in the Philippines before Deng.

    Here is a picture of Chiang Ching posing with Imelda Marcos:

    I don’t know enough about the Phillipines to comment definitely, but we have to be careful not to make one of the mistakes that Brezhnev made, namely to confuse questions of national politics with questions of general line: While it may make sense for the USSR to seek peaceful coexistence with the United States as a national policy — as it did under Lenin — the international revolutionary movement as a whole cannot possibly have peaceful coexistence for a line.

    Similarly, Stalin could have friendly relations with the Weimar Republic, and that was correct, but German communists could not.

    • CA,

      You’re confusing a few things basic to question here. No one is asserting that the Chinese state is more of an imperialist threat than the US, you’re merely asserting that – our contention is that China is a capitalist state involved in the fabric of the imperialist world-system. Clearly the global hegemon is still the US, while China and EU is both an contradictory and interdepedent bloc with it.

      – Secondly, don’t confuse pragmatic political play by Prachanda in Nepal with the determining political line of the Party. I was present when Prachanda was courting possible US aid and investment to Nepal. The UCPN (M)’s politics need to concern themselves at the moment with regional power play. Nepal has altogether played a balance between India and China historically, and within the context of Indian expansionist threats, it would be absurd to take on an antagonistic relationship to the Chinese which present no such threat.

      Last and not least, you’re muddling the actual experience of social-imperialism and the Three Worlds’ Theory. Let me just clear up something on Chinese foriegn policy.

      Three Worlds Theory, the political line of Chinese foreign policy, is nearly completely rejected by most Maoists as incorrect and more importantly as serving the revisionists to take power in China. Three Worlds Theory was at that time articulated probably the best by Deng Xiaoping – who gave a speech about it as general policy in the UN – Zhou Enlai and others.

  48. As to the Dennis O’Neill article: How can someone call themselves an anti-revisionist and have anything good to say about that article?

    Dennis O’Neill is glad to see “democracy” come to Eastern Europe. Since when is what we have in the capitalist world democracy? He talks hopefully about the new openness under perestroika which has allowed all sorts of new political flowerings, even up to pogroms. That is bourgeois liberalism carried to quite an extreme; surely the dictatorship of the proletariat is not morally compelled to allow pogroms in the name of democracy.

    His predictions for the future are laughable in hindsight: That there would soon be a crisis in agriculture, when in fact since 1989 the Chinese economy has shown sustained, enormous growth. That glasnost and perestroika meant a renewal of socialism and some new form of socialism in Eastern Europe when in fact it meant introduction of the most barbaric sort of capitalism, the collapse of living standards, race war, and millions of unnecessary deaths.

    The students were patriots who had internationalized socialism’s best values, but yet they were involved in racist demonstrations against African students? The logic breaks down there badly.

    They showed great discipline and sacrifice… Fine, but in what cause? At first Mr. O’Neill lists only that they are against corruption. But, there is a whole sale change going on in the economic picture, and from their choice of the rightist Hu Yao Bang as their leader, the student’s position on that change is clear: It does not go far enough. Mr. O’Neill doesn’t want to talk about that, but it is a plain enough fact, and he doesn’t explicitly deny it. They can sing the Internationale all they want, but if they are demanding capitalism, they are only waving the red flag to defeat the red flag.

    Then we get into a discussion of the tendencies within the CP China. But Mr. O’Neill refuses to label them as left and right. This, he says, is difficult. But it’s not really. The ones who favor a bigger role for the market are the right. Hu Yao Bang, the martyr of the students, is at the extreme right within the party. The ones he calls the old guard who are opposed to the reform are the left. And Deng is in the middle. No Marxist should wrestle with that.

    Next, he talks about the students’ excellent use of symbols. Apparently in Mr. O’Neill’s opinion they succeeded in looking like Marxists. Since we know they were not Marxists, this only meant they were trying, and possibly succeeding, to pull the wool over the eyes of the workers. Mr. O’Neill finds this commendable. I don’t.

    Next we have the discussion of the “space” in which the student movement developed. The most interesting thing here is that Mr. O’Neill explicitly compares them to the CIA funded Polish fascist organization known as Solidarity. He doesn’t seem to understand why that comparison is unsettling.

    Then we get into a discussion of the existence of a struggle within the party without, however, any attempt to analyze what that struggle was about. Mr. O’Neill isn’t interested in struggles within CP China, which is an odd thing for a Marxist. He also says no one knew what was going on in those struggles. That’s really not very easy to believe. Given the varying statements that had been made by the key leaders of the CP China, the only way you could not understand the fissures in the party is if you were not paying attention. And given that the students were naming the leaders on one side of the split as enemies and the leaders on the other side as friends, it looks as though they were indeed paying attention.

    Next, we talk about the brutality of the repression. That the repression was especially brutal is taken as a given, though in fact it wasn’t really the case. Tens of thousands of demonstrators — in Mr. O’Neill’s reckoning, millions — attempted to storm the headquarters of the party, drove the police from the city, and generally tried to overthrow the government. When confronted by security forces they fought, sometimes with weapons. In the final showdown, the figure seems to be 182 dead protesters and 35 dead members of the security forces. These are not the statistics from a massacre, but from a very unequal showdown in which the winning side stopped fighting as soon as the losing side did.

    Then we get to fantastic claim that the state never before had used force against counterrevolutionaries, pointing to one incident in a factory as proof of it. This is followed by the truly startling claim that the students had “applied the mass line” in their demand for the open restoration of capitalism and bourgeois “democracy.”

    Then we get to the supposedly harsh repression. Mr. O’Neill compares Deng to the Polish government cracking down on Solidarity, and holds this up as proof of how wrong Deng is. Should the Polish government have allowed a foreign backed fascist organization to take power in the country? How could a Marxist possibly say that?

    The next problem, he says, is that the party has taken firmer control of the media. This is a bad thing for Mr. O’Neill, who shows his bourgeois liberal coloring clearly enough. But we can recall that one of the 21 Conditions for Admission to the Communist International is that the party press will be under the full control of the central committee.

    Then to the predictions as such:

    Banal and stilted rectification campaigns, party infighting and internal repression. None of these happened. The Tiananmen incident was the end, not the beginning, of a long period of party infighting. And the only challenged we have seen to Deng within the party since then has been from the left, in the days after Deng’s death.

    The pro-democracy movement, we are told, will be weaker and more anti-party, but it will not vanish. In reality, it has all but vanished, but the remainder — a handful of mercenaries in the pay of foreign powers — is openly anti-party for the most part. Then again, the “pro-democracy” movement was always anti-party, since it was pro bourgeois democracy, and a bourgeois democracy is inconsistent with a Communist party in power.

    Then we talk about socialism, and the problems of it. Mr. O’Neill tells us that so far socialism has never really found a way forward. Words cannot express the depth of my outrage at that comment, from a man who obviously knows of the enormous successes which socialist societies have had.

    But in this discussion of the nature of socialism we do see one interesting thing: Mr. O’Neill, like the Maoists on this board, is interested overwhelmingly in the ideological tasks of socialism. The phrase “from each according to his ability; to each according to his labor” does not appear in his discussion of socialism, nor does any discussion of state ownership of the means of production, the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, etc.

    Next, we come to a favorite slogan of the imperialists: the rule of law. This phrase invariably means the rule of capital in every other context in which I have seen it used. A society in which there are too many taxes, too much government regulation, or, God forbid, nationalization of industry, lacks the “rule of law.”

    Next, we come to the question of a multi-party state. He first states how annoying it is to hear from the Western press that economic liberalization has resulted in this need. Then he tells us that the bourgeois press is right and China needs not only a market economy but bourgeois democracy.

    Then he tells us the revolution will be televised. His proof of this is the amount of television coverage given by the bourgeois media to the Tiananmen Square demonstrators.

    Does anyone here believe that? That when the revolution is coming for the capitalists, the capitalists will report it live and indeed glorify it? Can anyone remember CNN giving coverage to the progress made by the New People’s Army?

    No… As someone else said already, the mere treatment of the protesters in the bourgeois media is a pretty good proof of their nature. The capitalist media likes capitalist protesters. Had they been Maoists, we would have heard they had horns and ate babies.

    In short, Mr. O’Neill favors bourgeois democracy and the reintroduction of capitalism. He likes the students because the agree with him, and dislikes the CP China because they blocked the students.

  49. the GPCR was filled with great contradictions. In many was it stands as an example of how far the communist ideal develop and yet there existed contradictions and ultra leftism.

    Were there rightist and militarist errors in the handling of the students at Tiananmen? Were the students really all just counter-revolutionaries?

    What is our view of socialism in China these days? Ditto Cuba, North Korea. If it is socialism?

    I think FRSO does an excellent job of debunking a simplistic view of how capitalism was restored in the SU and in China. I find elements of the argument persausive while never answering some basic questions about how an advanced communist country could crumble. Cuba didnt crumble when the SU collapsed but Eastern Europe sure did

  50. Well, first:

    I don’t actually think I’ve muddled my analysis of China in the Philippines. What I am saying is that, despite that the CP Philippines is fighting a people’s war against the Philippine government, there is nothing in the world wrong with socialist nations enjoying friendly relations with that same government. I pointed out, or meant to point out, that this could easily lead to misunderstandings between the Chinese and the CP Philippines.

    The claim is made that the Chinese are an imperial power in the Philippines. On the whole, I don’t buy that. Philippine capital is hugely owned by the United States, and U.S. involvement in Philippine affairs is notorious. The NPA has actually fought soldiers from the U.S. army directly. No similar relationship exists between the Philippines and China.

    The suggestion that the relationship between China and the U.S. on one hand and Europe and the U.S. on the other is equivalent flies in the face of the facts. Europe is not another pole in the international capitalist alliance. It is the sock puppet of the United States, forming a united front with it economically, diplomatically and militarily on issues from Iraq to Cuba.

    There are many European troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has not been a single Chinese soldier in either of those countries.

    It is true that China has trade relations with the capitalist world, indeed extensive trade relations. I see nothing wrong with this if it is what they need to build socialism. The task of overthrowing the U.S. government and installing socialism here does not belong to the Chinese but to U.S. revolutionaries.

    I did not know that you rejected the three worlds argument. Thank you for pointing that out to me.

    • “Extensive Trade Relations” is not the real description of their relationships.

      I just want to repost something I wrote elsewhere –

      Chinese top officials, including Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao are concerned over the state of Chinese holdings of US Bonds – right now these bonds are appreciating in value, but if the United States is going to spend and create more debt in order to get itself out of the recession, this will certainly depreciate the value of US Bonds. The Chinese government largely holds no other bonds and American assets is largely what they hold in state hands.

      So whats the problem with this? China is beholden to the US Bonds so much, that if their depreciation were to occur, it could only mean that China’s assets in US Treasury bonds would sit and rot because of their toxicity. No one will begin buying depreciating US Treasury Bonds, and if China were to begin to sell.

      they would immediately fall more in their value essentially assuring a whole global financial meltdown.

      Recently, with the global crisis of overproduction, had led the Chinese leadership to begin a huge Keyenesian model stimulus package to re-ignite the economy. The Chinese state approved over 500 billion dollars in stimulus to the economy – that … Read Moreis nearly as big as our stimulus package. Whats that show of the problem? Keyensian programs are short term fixes to adjust to the crisis of overproduction, a basic crisis in capitalism, that leads to unemployment and wealth destruction.

      Keynesian plans are short term programs of the bourgeoisie to try to stabalize a crisis’ social affects – which in China has led to over a hundred million people unemploymed, closed down consumer goods manufacturing throughout the country, and ha cut vastly short the suspected GDP growth for this year – the usual 8% GDP coul fall to 5% . But this is nothing special, all the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) will have their GDP rise.

  51. Mao did hold with the three worlds strategy, though. Here is a transcript of a discussion of it which he had with Kenneth Kaunda:

    “We hope the Third World will unite. The Third World has a large population!… I hold that the U.S. and the Soviet Union belong to the First World. The middle elements, such as Japan, Europe, Australia and Canada, belong to the Second World. We are the Third World.”
    — Mao Zedong, February 22, 1974

    Deng Xiao Peng set it out more fully in a speech to the United Nations in the same year, but Mao does not seem to have disagreed with it. And the fact that Deng and Mao both held with it is really interesting. It reminds me of when, during the cultural revolution, there was discussion of expelling Deng from the Party since he was, of course, supposed to be the number one capitalist roader. It was Mao who prevented it, pointing out that he had incredible talent and it could not be cast aside. The two were closer than many Maoists like to admit.

    • I don’t disagree that Mao supported Three Worlds’ Theory, but that is obviously not an argument for it and even you don’t think its a correct theory. It seems the Albanian criticism of that line was correct to me.

      Maoists don’t blindly support everything Mao Zedong himself did or upheld, we upheld his contributions that elevated the theory of Marxism and the legacy of the revolutionaries in China. That would make us a a theological sect and not communists.

      Under Mao’s command Deng was expelled twice by the way, before his death Deng was expelled again.

  52. Russia is not expected to grow at all in 2009, it is expected to contract by at least 1%, so that is not correct. Brazil is going to contract by 1.5%. 8% growth in a global climate of financial meltdown is “something special”. Yes, China is not completely immune to the effects of global capitalism, but the fact that it’s the only significant economy that is seeing significant growth speaks volumes. It was only one of 2 major economies that didn’t experience a slowdown or recession in 2000-2001, and socialist China was entirely unaffected by the financial meltdown in Asia in 1997.

    Conditions and context leads countries to make adjustments. The world is not a Maoist textbook. Cuba had to undertake a number of “free market” reforms in the early to mid 1990s. Cuba resolutely opposes collectivization of agriculture, yet no one challenges Cuba’s socialist credentials (except the Hoxhaists, maybe).

  53. It is rather shocking that, if China’s economy is so intertwined with the advanced capitalist countries and export driven, it hasn’t seen a drastic downturn (in fact the US economy is driven more by exports than China, China’s economy is driven by infrastructure spending). But what is more interesting is that ShinethePath is arguing against any stimulus spending, using Ron Paulian/rightwing logic that it would lead to an economic catastrophe. This means either that StP is hoping for a economic meltdown, meaning millions of people unemployed, hunger and poverty skyrocketing, or he’s an advocate of completely gutting public spending, making common cause with the GOP.

  54. Finally, US bonds make up maybe 60% of the PRC’s reserves, and they’re diversifying more and more. They’ve already begun to sell the bonds. They began last year and sold off a lot of them early this year. So much for the idea that China is entirely ‘beholden’ to US bonds and that their sale would lead to a furthering of the financial crisis. This is because more and more outside investors are buying up US bonds. The US is far less dependent on Chinese cash than before.

  55. Malarky, your method of argument assumes my position and then tries to make a counter-argument to something which is not in my posts.

    Keynesian insight is very simple, offset the worst parts of contractions, namely the cost of social unrest, in the economy by allowing capital to circulate through the whole of society. Keynesian economics merely restructures or provides a way to redistribute wealth in order to provide cure to the symptoms of crisis – but it fundamentally can’t change the crisis and can even deepen it.

    If for example, stimulus spending will occur in the US, there is a possibility for crisis to deepen in the future. Immediately inflation is good possibility.

    The point is Marxists understand the deeper problem with the crisis, the anarchy of capitalist overproduction.

    Now the argument that China is not dependent on US consumerism is fundamentally flawed. The largest section of the growing economy has been consumer based production and state owned finances. The Chinese Communist Party is deeply concerned with the crisis in the US because it has severely affected production – for example 2/3rd of toy factories have been reported closed.

    China still doesn’t have a large enough consumer market to sustain the growth of GDP in the economy, it is very much dependent on the US market.

    Secondly, they’re much dependent on US bonds as security. Contrary to what you say, Chinese purchase of US Bonds will be estimated at a 100 billion this year alone – your news is a bit old that China is selling US Bonds, they were selling them at the turn of the year because of fear of the Obama administrations presumed deficit spending, but by the month of March their purchases of US Bonds offset their sales. They’re own interests in China on the issue are completely at odds with any plans for Keynesian deficit spending in the US.

    On the BRICs, Russia is being forecasted to have 1% GDP growth (significantly smaller than before) after a very bleak beginning of this year. Brazil is the only country that is at the moment being predicted to go into contraction of GDP, but will have GDP grow in the following year.

    However there is a distinct difference between Russian and Brazilian economies to the Chinese one. Russian and Brazilian economies are highly attached to the European bloc of capital, which is in probably more dire financial situation than the US.

    The issue of Cuba has its own particularities, but it isn’t a saint either – I wouldn’t at this moment accuse it of being revisionist or counter-revolutionary, but the history of their economic development isn’t something to fawn over – turning an economy dependent to US capital to being dependent to Soviet capital. There are obvious truths to the fact that the economic premise of self-reliance is nearly ridiculous to countries like Cuba or Nepal, but the Cuban planning of the economy was from the very beginning problematic.

    I would also have to say that for any revolutionary, the move to market reforms should concern us all.

  56. STP:

    1. Can you point me to a theoretical article or something in which your group or RCP or someone has rejected the three world’s theory, and what you hold with as an alternative? Cause honestly this is the first I’ve heard of it, and, as you admit, the three worlds theory did come from Mao. It’s an odd sort of Maoist who would reject that. Of course, many people who call themselves Maoist also deride Mao’s chosen successor, Hua Guo Feng, as a capitalist roader. So anything is possible.

    2. When you say that China is a danger to the world equal to Soviet “social imperialism,” are you speaking just for yourself? Or is there any Maoist group, including your own, which agrees with that? Because that’s the first I’ve heard of this theory.

    3. For the most part, I just don’t think that your analysis of the world situation is to be taken seriously. That China is an important trading partner of the U.S. I don’t doubt. That one strong economy can prop up the world capitalist system indefinitely I find very hard to believe. If that economy is itself capitalist, of course, eventually it will fold due to its own internal contradictions anyway. So the only way for China to have any stabilizing effect on the world economy over the long term is if it is socialist.

    4. The confrontations between China and the U.S. are known perfectly well to the readers of this page and many of them have been cited by myself or Malarkey. You brush them off. I’ll leave that for the readers to judge.

  57. None of these economics lectures by StP have turned out to be remotely correct. Now we have the excuse as to why the previous (mis)statement about how all the Brics are going to have equivalent growth to China is completely incorrect, because of Russia and Brazil’s “closeness to the European bloc of capital” as opposed to China’s closeness with the US. The two leading trade partners of Brazil are China and the US. The US had been the #1 trading partner of Brazil for 80 years. The highest European trade partner is Germany, at about 7% of overall trade. So why, then, the claim that Brazil is somehow more attached to European capital than American. I think you’re making things up as you go along. Especially since China is no less “attached” to European capital (in terms of trade) than Brazil. China is the #1 source of EU imports and #1 trade partner of China. It would seem then, if China’s economy was so trade driven, that the EU being a mess might affect China. But it hasn’t.

    Why? Because Chinese growth is not dependent on exports.

    China’s domestic market is doing just fine in sustaining the economy.

    – “Most people suppose that China’s economic success depends on exporting cheap goods to the rich world. If so, its growth would be seriously dented by a stuttering American economy. Headline figures show that China’s exports surged from 20% of GDP in 2001 to almost 40% in 2007, which seems to suggest not only that exports are the main driver of growth, but also that China’s economy would be hit much harder by an American downturn than it was during the previous recession in 2001. If exports are measured correctly, however, they account for a surprisingly modest share of China’s economic growth.”

    – “China’s economy is driven not by exports but by investment, which accounts for over 40% of GDP. This raises an additional concern: that weaker exports could lead to a sharp drop in investment because exporters would need to add less capacity. But Arthur Kroeber at Dragonomics, a Beijing-based research firm, argues that investment is not as closely tied to exports as is often assumed: over half of all investment is in infrastructure and property.”

    – “The American government frequently accuses China of relying excessively on exports. But David Carbon, an economist at DBS, a Singaporean bank, suggests that America is starting to look like the pot that called the kettle black. In the year to September, net exports accounted for more than 30% of America’s total GDP growth in 2007. Another popular belief looks ripe for reappraisal: it seems that domestic demand is a bigger driver of China’s growth than it is of America’s.”

  58. So there we have it. Cuba is ‘nothing to be fawned over’. The Maoists find nothing to be proud of in the history of socialism, except the mayhem and economic stagnation of the Cultural Revolution (which may have had good intentions, but contained many errors). Similar to Trots (indeed it’s becoming harder and harder to tell the two apart), they extol the virtues of groups that do not have political power but are engaging in people’s war. Once in power, unless they engage in constant and violent political struggle within the party, they are likely to be called “revisionists”. By supporting nobody, they are able to keep their supposed moral and ideological purity and attack everybody else for not being pure enough.

  59. I don’t know where you get your Russia news, but I’ve read nothing anywhere that says Russia’s economy is going to grow at all in 2009. It’s a matter of dispute over how much it will contract. Conservative estimates say 1%, but it may be as high as 8%. In Q1 Russia contracted by 7%.
    The staggering difference cannot be explained away with “EU trade”.

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